Friday, February 15, 2013
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Logan County committee reviews support for CEDS and Lincoln TIF district

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[February 15, 2013]  On Monday night, the Logan County Executive/Economic Development Committee met to discuss the next step to getting involved in its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy region. The committee also discussed the TIF district that could be established in Lincoln.

Committee members present were chairman David Hepler, Robert Farmer, Rick Aylesworth, Gene Rohlfs and Chuck Ruben.


The committee discussed an important aspect in joining a CEDS region: How much money will the county have to pay to be a part of it?

At the previous meeting of the committee, the members present were told that the county would have to pay somewhere between $15,000 and $18,000 over the course of three years. Spread out over that time frame, the county would be paying between $5,000 and $6,000 a year.

Gene Rohlfs said this conflicted with figures that have been given to the county board in previous years. He cited meeting minutes from discussions in 2011, during which the figures indicated a payment of $7,500 to $10,000 each year.

The lack of a solid answer on how much would need to be paid gave Rohlfs reason to be concerned, and he equated the process to a game of chance. "We need to decide how much we are willing to gamble," he said. He also expressed concern that the total amount that would have to be paid might be higher than the figures would indicate.

Chuck Ruben responded to Rohlfs, saying that those earlier figures were given at a time when the committee in the region where the county would be joining a CEDS was going through a bit of political upheaval.

Ruben also said that the county would not be the only entity paying to be part of the district. A special fund would need to be established, in which the county would add $5,000 and the city of Lincoln would add $5,000 per year.

On a third note concerning CEDS, Robert Farmer added that through the district, the county can apply for grants and funding for a greater variety of projects than through other organizations.

The whole board is expected to discuss the matter further and vote later this month on the resolution to join the CEDS.

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TIF district

Ruben, who has been attending city of Lincoln meetings concerning a TIF district, provided the committee members with a brief explanation of how it is expected to function.

Logan County has two other TIF districts, one in Mount Pulaski and one in Elkhart.

First, Ruben answered a question as to whether or not a business could be in both the TIF district and the enterprise zone. Ruben said no, adding that there are three businesses in the proposed TIF district that would have to make a choice as to which region they would be a part of.

The TIF district would go into effect for a 23-year period. During that time, a maximum would be set on property tax that could be collected from the area. Should there be an excess (meaning a property has a higher value than the maximum would allow for), the excess would be placed in a fund before it was collected by the city or the county.

The special fund would then be used to improve the properties within the TIF district. Theoretically, this would result in increased property values, which would in turn increase the amount in the TIF district, and the cycle would repeat.

Ruben told the committee that the city expects to raise around $6 million in this manner.

The flip side to the city of Lincoln establishing a TIF district is a loss in property taxes to the county. If the amount of tax money above the maximum is removed before the county can take its share, there is a loss of potential tax dollars.

Ruben told the committee that such a loss, in his opinion, would not be large enough to not support the city's TIF district.


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